Jump to section

What is Salivary Gland Swelling?

The most common type of salivary gland swelling happens when salivary mucoceles form near an affected gland. These mucoceles are sometimes referred to as ranulas or salivary cysts. When a gland is damaged, usually from trauma, it can begin to leak saliva into surrounding tissue. The saliva accumulation irritates the tissue, causing an inflammatory response to wall off the collection of fluid. A salivary fistula is another cause of salivary gland swelling. Once again, trauma to the gland causes an excess of saliva to be produced, which can prevent wounds in the mouth from healing. A fistula (opening) can then develop at the wound site. Both of these conditions can range in severity, from mild to life-threatening.

The salivary glands produce saliva which assists the digestion process by lubricating chewed food. Cats have five different salivary glands including the mandibular, molar, parotid, sublingual and zygomatic. These glands are located on either side of the mouth, under the tongue, and near the throat. Swelling of these glands usually indicates injury has happened, and can create other oral health problems.

Salivary Gland Swelling Average Cost

From 243 quotes ranging from $200 - $800

Average Cost

$400

Symptoms of Salivary Gland Swelling in Cats

Symptoms and their severity will differ depending the location and size of the cyst or fistula. Many symptoms will deter the cat from eating, which can lead to dangerous weight loss. Symptoms to watch for include:

  • Soft mass in the mouth
  • Swelling of the face
  • Ptyalism (drooling)
  • Vomiting
  • Dysphagia (difficulty eating)
  • Loss of appetite
  • Exophthalmia (eye bulging)
  • Dyspnea (labored breathing)
  • Lethargy
  • Pain when touched near the mouth
  • Fever
  • Bad breath
arrow-up-icon

Top

Causes of Salivary Gland Swelling in Cats

While trauma may cause salivary gland swelling, often the condition appears spontaneously. There are many possible contributing factors to the swelling, though none are definitive. Potential causes include:

  • Trauma to a gland or duct (often from a bite wound)
  • Genetic predisposition
  • Birth defect
  • Cancerous growth
  • Inflammatory blockage
  • Prior surgery
  • Abscess drainage
  • Infection
arrow-up-icon

Top

Diagnosis of Salivary Gland Swelling in Cats

The veterinarian will need all records of the cat’s medical history. A physical examination will be performed with focus in and around the mouth. The vet will palpate the face, throat and neck to check for swelling and mucoceles. There are other oral issues that share some of the symptoms of salivary gland swelling that will have to be ruled out, including cancer, a foreign object, growths, or dental abscesses. 

A fine needle aspiration biopsy is the best way to reveal if a mucocele is present. If the fluid removed is thick, golden and stringy, complete diagnosis can be made. X-rays, ultrasounds or computed tomography can confirm that no other underlying issue is present. Full blood work should be run, including a complete blood count and serum chemistry to show the overall health of the cat.

arrow-up-icon

Top

Treatment of Salivary Gland Swelling in Cats

Very mild cases of gland swelling may not require treatment. Advanced cases of mucoceles can interfere with the breathing process and prevent the cat from eating. Fistulas may become infected, which can then spread throughout the body.

Surgical Removal of the Gland 

In both types of salivary gland swelling, removal of the damaged gland can completely eradicate the issue. Sometimes an entire chain of glands need to be removed, while other in other instances, only one gland needs to be excised. Incision size will depend on the affected gland. General anesthesia is required for this procedure. When a mucocele is present, it is lanced and drained before the gland is removed. It may help to also perform a marsupialization procedure while removing the gland. 

Surgical Ligation

In the case of a fistula, surgically tying off the damaged duct can help to stop saliva leakage.

Antibiotics 

If infection is present, or if surgery has been performed, antibiotics will be prescribed to eliminate harmful bacteria. Prescriptions generally last from one to four weeks.

arrow-up-icon

Top

Recovery of Salivary Gland Swelling in Cats

After oral surgery, close monitoring will be needed to ensure the incision site heals without becoming infected. Soft foods may be necessary until the cat can properly chew. Administer all painkillers and antibiotics that have been prescribed by your veterinarian. Eliminating stress in the home and limiting your cat’s activity can promote quick healing. 

Your cat will be scheduled for a post-surgery checkup appointment to ensure the incision is healing and that the surgery was performed correctly. If the surgical removal of the gland is successful, often no more related issues will occur in the cat. As the causes of salivary mucoceles and fistulas is vastly unknown, it is hard to prevent them from developing in the first place.

arrow-up-icon

Top

*Wag! may collect a share of sales or other compensation from the links on this page. Items are sold by the retailer, not Wag!.

Salivary Gland Swelling Average Cost

From 243 quotes ranging from $200 - $800

Average Cost

$400

arrow-up-icon

Top

Salivary Gland Swelling Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

question-icon-cta

Ask a Vet

dog-name-icon

dog-breed-icon

mixed breed cat, short/medium hair

dog-age-icon

Twelve Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Bunting, Brownish Residue In Bed Near Face

I think this is a problem with scent glands. Brownish stains recently appeared on her bed where she curls up. I can see irritation close to her mouth at chin. She rubs her face against corners and leaves brown stain.

Sept. 29, 2020

Owner

answer-icon

Dr. Michele K. DVM

recommendation-ribbon

0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. What you're describing can be caused by bacterial infection, moist dermatitis of the skin folds of the face, or dental disease. Since it doesn't seem to be getting better, it would probably be best to have her seen by a veterinarian. She may need antibiotic therapy or dental work. They will be able to look at her and let you know more when might be causing this and what treatment might be appropriate for her. I hope that all goes well for her.

Sept. 29, 2020

Was this experience helpful?

dog-name-icon

dog-breed-icon

domestic shorthair

dog-age-icon

Ten Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Lump/Mass/Liquid Sac Under Tongue

Hello, I recently adopted a senior cat and noticed that he struggled to keep hard food and treats in his mouth when he was eating. He always has an appetite but struggles with anything besides wet food. I took him to the vet who said it may be harmless, or it could be cancer, but when researching it looks more like a swollen saliva sack. It is clear/white in color and it is on the right side of his tongue. I can see it when he yawns but it doesn't appear to be hurting him at all - for 10 years old he is very playful and has a big appetite. Anything helps, thanks!

Sept. 28, 2020

Owner

answer-icon

Dr. Michele K. DVM

recommendation-ribbon

0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. I apologize for the delay in answering, this platform is not set up for urgent emails. Your veterinarian would be able to get a sample of the lump, or possibly remove it, under anesthesia or sedation. That might give you more information on whether further treatment is needed. The alternative is to monitor it, and continue to feed him canned or soft food.

Oct. 9, 2020

Was this experience helpful?

dog-name-icon

Dusty

dog-breed-icon

Persian

dog-age-icon

1 Year

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Swelling
No

I took my cat to a vet today because I noticed he(cat) has some swelling under his tongue at the back n it looks purple in colour so the doctor said he has salivary cyst n must be operated n I haven't given him any vaccination before so will it cause a problem for him ?? And is operating the only option?

Aug. 3, 2018

Dusty's Owner

answer-icon

Dr. Michele K. DVM

recommendation-ribbon

0 Recommendations

Without seeing Dusty or the swelling, I can't comment on other options, unfortunately. If you aren't sure of the diagnosis, it never hurts to have a second opinion with another veterinarian. If Dusty has never been vaccinated, he should have those vaccines before spending time at a clinic and having surgery.

Aug. 3, 2018

Was this experience helpful?

dog-name-icon

Loki

dog-breed-icon

Domestic shorthair

dog-age-icon

3 Months

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Fair severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Fair severity

Has Symptoms

Two Lumps On Neck/Jaw

My kitten of 3.5 lbs has two lumps on his neck. They have gone down and I took him to the vet today. They said it was just salivary glands and I shouldnt worry. No tests apart from physical was done. He has no other worrying sympyoms

July 30, 2018

Loki's Owner

answer-icon

recommendation-ribbon

0 Recommendations

Salivary glands may get swollen due to infection, inflammation, trauma among other causes; without examining Loki I cannot confirm whether the swelling was due to enlarged mandibular salivary gland, lymph nodes or another cause as there are many structures around the neck and throat. You should keep an eye on Loki and return if there is no overall improvement. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM https://veteriankey.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/B9780723434153500154_fx5b.jpg

July 31, 2018

Was this experience helpful?

dog-name-icon

Junior

dog-breed-icon

Cat

dog-age-icon

7 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

thumbs-up-icon

1 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Lathargic, Third Eye, Drooling Not

Please call me. Fighting a bad salivary gland infection in my cat. Same side of his mouth he had teeth pulled 6 months ago. Antibiotics aren't working. 4 surgeries now to drain it. Gentamicin is helping the best, but comes back after several days.

July 6, 2018

Junior's Owner


answer-icon

Dr. Michele K. DVM

recommendation-ribbon

1 Recommendations

I'm sorry that is happening to Junior! I only have access to your question via email. Without seeing him, I can't offer very much in the way of help for this problem, but it may be a good idea to seek a second opinion, or get dental x-rays to see if there is a retained root that is causing this problem.

July 6, 2018

His teeth were extracted 6 months ago. Is it possible that this salivary gland infection can occur 6 months later in relation to the infection

July 8, 2018

Junior's Owner

Was this experience helpful?

dog-name-icon

Tom

dog-breed-icon

domestic short hair

dog-age-icon

4 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Weight Loss
Swollen Throat

So in December my cat Tom stopped eating, stopped drinking, wouldn’t move, drooling, bad breath, swollen throat, losing weight, weak, and slightly lethargic. Took him to the vet the next day, couldn’t find anything wrong besides a possible ruptured salivary gland. The liquid from his throat “pocket” was clear and was ran with no abnormalities. Was given any inflammatory and antibiotic for 3 days which worked great. Instantly started eating and drinking again and being himself. Had his follow up 2 weeks later and everything was good besides the pocket being slightly filled again which I was told he would need surgery to remove the gland or it would keep filling but was told it wouldn’t cause issues. Now it’s almost 2 months later and he’s losing weight rapidly but is still eating and drinking and acting normal.

dog-name-icon

Reagan

dog-breed-icon

Tortie

dog-age-icon

10 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Swollen Red Gums And Lump.

My cat has stomatitis in her mouth. Now all of a sudden she has a lump by the jaw and ear. I took her to the vet and we put her on antibiotics but he said I may have to take her to a specialist which would cost a fortune and I still have to have all her teeth pulled. I hope the antibiotics work. Then I can get her teeth pulled. Could the lump be from a bad tooth?

dog-name-icon

Suzie Q

dog-breed-icon

Unknown

dog-age-icon

23 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Critical severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Critical severity

Has Symptoms

Not Eating Much. Swollen Tongue.

Our cat, Suzie Q, has a swollen tongue and thick saliva. She is not eating well. Almost nothing. After reading some of the above info I feel our vet has not diagnosed her problem correctly. It sounds like Suzie needs surgery, however, she is 23 years old. Before this problem, she was still fairly active and healthy. I am not sure if she could handle the surgery. Not sure what else to do for her.

dog-name-icon

Kafka

dog-breed-icon

Domestic long hair

dog-age-icon

6 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

thumbs-up-icon

2 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Lethargy
Wheezing
Swollen Glands

My 6 year old cat suddenly developed a large lump on the throat. We took her to the vet and they suspect it’s a problem with the salivary glands. A biopsy was taken and we are currently waiting on the results. She was given steroids and an antibiotic, and seemed to be responding well to them. Since last week she has been having episodes where out of no where she’ll tense up and fall back. They last anywhere from a few seconds to maybe a minute. Afterwards she seems so lethargic and tends to sleep the rest of the night following these episodes. Are these seizures? Is it poissible the swollen glands are causing this? How can I make her more comfortable during and after these episodes?

Salivary Gland Swelling Average Cost

From 243 quotes ranging from $200 - $800

Average Cost

$400

How can we help your pet?